|DAY||SUMMARY OF ACTIVITY||LOCATION|
|1||Arrive and explore historic Luang Prabang||Luang Prabang|
|2||Luang Prabang city tour, Mekong cruise and Pak Ou Caves||Luang Prabang|
|3||Visit a local market, a silk weaving centre, a local produce garden and Kuang Si Waterfall||Luang Prabang|
|4||Plain of Jars, mountaintop villages and a hidden Buddha Cave||Xiengkhuang|
|5||Information about land mine clearance from MAG and then flight to Vientiane||Vientiane|
|6||Vientiane city tour including Wat Prakeo, That Luang Stupa and Patuxay Monument, and the COPE Centre||Vientiane|
|7||Flight to Pakse, boat cruise with the Irrawaddy dolphins and 4000 islands||Khong Island|
|8||Boat tour to Don Khone, Ban Nakasang fishing village and Khone Phapheng Waterfall||Khong Island|
|9||The Bolaven Plateau, a knifemaking village, tea and coffee plantations and minority villages||Pakse|
|10||Explore Pakse and departure|
Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Luang Prabang has been claimed by UNESCO to be ‘the best preserved city in South East Asia’. The rest of the day is at leisure.
LUANG PRABANG – PAK OU CAVES
After breakfast, your short city tour starts with a visit to Wat Visoun, known as ‘The Water Melon Stupa’ due to its shape. Next we visit the excellent Arts and Ethnology Centre which gives us a further insight into the ethnic mix and culture of Laos. We also visit the magnificent Wat Xiengthong, with its roofs sweeping low to the ground, representing the classical Luang Prabang style.
We then board a cruise upstream on the Mekong River, which gives us a panoramic view of the tranquil countryside. Our first stop is the village of Ban Muangkeo where we start a short trek to reach the mysterious Pak Ou Caves, two linked caves crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by pilgrims. En route, we stop at the village of Ban Xanghai, where the local specialty of rice wine is produced.
We return to Luang Prabang by car via Ban Nongxai, an artisans village and also to visit a silversmith workshop. We arrive back in Luang Prabang by late afternoon.
LOCAL LIVES AND HANDICRAFTS
After breakfast, we visit the local Phosi Market, this is the place where all the locals shop and your guide will show you the diverse offerings on display. We also stop at Ock Pop Tock, a silk weaving centre. Here you will be given a guided tour and the silk weaving process will be explained.
Next we drive to Ban Thinkeo, a Hmong village and start trekking with the villagers. Your guide will explain to you the common use of the plants for the Hmong people. You will go to the garden and cut some vegetables and herbs with the local people.
We continue to Kuang Si Waterfall, where you will enjoy a picnic lunch overlooking the beautiful multi tiered falls. You also have the opportunity to cool off in the turquoise blue pools. Afterwards return to Luang Prabang in time to catch the sun setting over the Mekong.
We start early this morning, around 8am for the drive to Xiengkhuang, famous for the ‘Plain of Jars’. The road follows a twisty mountain route, and we make our first stop at Houi Hei, which offers great views of the surrounding mountains.
We continue Ban Kiu Kam Pone, a Khmu village to explore, before arriving in Phou Khoun for lunch. We follow on the road into Xiengkhuang province, reaching our highest altitude of the day at 1500m above sea level, just after Phou Khoun. We have time to make a stop at Ban Son Boom, a Hmong village.
Our final stops of the day are a reminder that this region played a major part during the Vietnam War – as we visit a hidden Buddha Cave, that served as an army hospital during the war and our final stop of the day, is an optional stop to visit an old Russian tank. We arrive at your Xiengkhuang hotel by early evening.
MAG AND THE PLAIN OF JARS
This morning we visit the Mines Action Group (MAG) office to learn about the work they do in clearing land mines and unexploded ordnance in the area. We then transfer out to Jar Site 1, the largest site, and Jar Site 3, located on top of a hill offering great views of the surrounding countryside.
We return back to Phonsavan town, and onto the airport for your domestic flight to Vientiane.
Your half day city tour begins with the oldest temple, Wat Sisaket with thousands of miniature Buddha statues, and the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo, which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha Image.
Enroute to Laos’ national precious heritage, the famous and sacred structure of That Luang Stupa, you will have the opportunity to take some pictures of the imposing Patuxay Monument, which is well known as Vientiane’s own Arc de Triumph.
The final visit of the day will be the excellent COPE exhibition centre, highlighting a much overlooked aspect of Laos and a major problem many of the local people face on a day to day basis in the form of unexploded ordnance as a result of heavy bombing campaigns during the Vietnam War era.
IRRAWADDY DOLPHINS AND 4000 ISLANDS
You will be transferred to the airport early this morning for the flight to Pakse. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred directly onto a private traditional boat for a 2-hour cruise to Champassak.
Disembark at this ancient town of the Champa Kingdom and continue by car to Wat Phou, another World Heritage Site in Laos, which became recognized by UNESCO in 2002. Wat Phou is the site of ruins which were once part of a temple built some time before Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. It contains some of the most ancient Khmer architecture which dates back to between the 7-11th centuries.
In the afternoon you will drive to Don Khong, an area of 4000 islands which is the widest point of the Mekong River during the rainy season, though during the dry months the river recedes, leaving behind thousands of islands and islets.
This area of the river is also famous for being the home to the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins. En route, we visit the atmospheric ruins of the Khmer temple of Oup Mong at Ban Houei Tomo, located in the forest. Arrive at Khong Island via ferry early evening and stay overnight on the island.
LIPHI AND KHONE PHAPHENG WATERFALLS
Following breakfast, we enjoy a visit to the surrounding countryside, and embark on a long tail boat tour to Don Khone, where we disembark and have the option of exploring the island by bicycle, which takes you to visit the remains of the French period and Liphi Waterfall or “the Corridor of the Devil”.
We return to the mainland at the fishing village of Ban Nakasang and drive further south to visit Khone Phapheng. Khone Phapheng is considered the largest waterfall by volume in South East Asia; this is a really impressive site near the Laos-Cambodian border, set within an area which is teeming with wildlife, making this area one of the most breathtaking destinations in Laos.
We then return back to Khong Island.
This morning we leave early and drive north to the Bolaven Plateau. The Bolaven Plateau is known for its cooler temperature being located high above the Mekong Valley. Our first stop is to visit Houey Ten, a Katu village specializing in knifemaking. We then stop at a tea plantation, followed by a stop at Tad Fan Waterfall, a picturesque twin chute waterfall.
In the afternoon, we then make a stop at a coffee plantation, en route to Tha Teng Market, a colourful ethnic minority food market. Next we explore another interesting minority village, Ban Bong Neua, an Alak village, that boasts a sacrificial altar.
We arrive at the beautiful Tadlo Waterfall by late afternoon and later head back to Pakse, stopping at Ban Houi Hun, an Alak weaving village, where they keep coffins under their houses, and at another picturesque waterfall, Paxuam, before arriving back in Pakse by early evening.
PAKSE AND DEPARTURE
After breakfast there will be free time for your own exploration of Pakse Town before your outbound flight from Pakse (flight not included).
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